13 Things I Have Learned From My Fellow Yoga Teachers

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I recently completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training certificate. It was an amazing experience. I learned so much from both my beloved instructor and the other teacher trainees in the program. We were a small group – only 8 people in total so over the 10 months of training we got to know each other quite well!

We had many opportunites to teach each other and to lead classes. Today I thought I would share some of the lessons that I feel honored to have learned from this great bunch of yogis! To be good teachers, I think we  also have to remain curious, questioning and enthusiastic students.

Voice – Always  be yourself. It’s sometimes tempting, especially as a beginner, to put on that melodic “yoga teacher voice”. If that is truly you, then perfect. If not, it will show. Don’t be shy about using your own true and unique voice.

Smile – A warm smile goes a long way to encourage students and create a warm learning environment. It really lifted my spirits to have  my peers look directly at me and smile when teaching. Made me love to be there.

Laugh – It’s so awesome to be open to laughter during yoga class. It’s so easy to take it very seriously!

Details – A few important details and building postures  in a systematic way really helps to bring students safely and confidently into poses.  My instructor often suggested working from the ground up when building the pose.

Fun – Try something different and unexpected in class. It’s great to shake things up once in awhile and helps to keep us in the place of havine a  of “Beginner’s Mind”. One of my friends had us all participate in her class by having each of us suggest a warmup. Another surprised us by incorporating laughter yoga and partner yoga into her classes.

Breathing – So important and so easy to forget as we focus to get the asana “just so.” You can never remind your class too often to remember to breath.

Knowledge – Anatomy, benefits, contraindications – bring em on!

Smooth Transitions – Whether you are teaching a vinyasa class or a more traditional hatha style class, it really helps to create a nice, safe flow if you are mindful of how you direct movement into, out of and between postures.

Key Safety Points – Be aware of common safety  issues and communicate them clearly to help ensure everyone has an injury-free experience that respects their needs.  For example, to protect knees; keep feet flexed (in poses such as 3-legged table),  pigeon toes slightly inward (standing wide angle forward bend).

Make it Real – Be genuine by bringing everyday anecodotes from your life  into the class.

Involve Participants – Allow them to take responsibility for their practice. Ask for input, leave room for questions.

Be Flexible – Sometimes students will do something completely different and that’s okay! This can be disconcerting – especially if you are new.  Remember,  it is the student’s practice after all and no one else can feel what’s going on in their body. (Of course if you have  safety concerns – then please speak up!)

Eye Contact – Acknowledgement (even brief) makes people feel special, like you are speaking to them directly.

Do you have any ideas from your own teaching experience or perhaps from a favorite teacher that you’d like to share in the comments below? What makes you love a particular yoga class?

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